By Peter Boyle
California-based political satirist Dave Lippman is best known as Dr George Shrub, the world's only known singing CIA (Committee to Intervene Anywhere) agent. "The rest", he says, "are secret so that you never know the song you are humming isn't one we composed".
Lippman is also George Stump, moderate environmentalist and timber company lobbyist. I met him during his first visit to Australia, and he was willing to talk.
With little thought for the consequences, I asked Lippman what he was doing here, but it was Shrub who answered.
"I shouldn't be telling you this, but I am the advance man for Mr Bush and I am here, undercover as Shrub as far as you know. Things always happen in places I go, by coincidence, so it is always so good to go back home to the United States, where there will never be a coup — there is no US embassy there, so it is a technical impossibility.
"First of all there is the questioning of DEMONstrators. Of course this is a free country, you didn't have to pay for it or anything, but there may be some demonstrations against the president just as there were demonstrations recently about East Timor. This does not mean that Bush is unpopular here, because most demonstrators are paid to protest. I know this for a fact because I normally pay them."
He was particularly concerned about the protesters at the Aidex arms fair. He didn't pay them so, it stands to reason "someone else must have". "I also noticed that some unions sponsored those protests. Now that's very misguided because once you have the unions mixing with those violent anti-arms people and mixing with the Indonesia question, well, you are mixing to the point where people might understand me, and we can't have that."
Dr Shrub (the "Dr" is for Monroe Doctorate, he explains) usually turns out in a dark suit, clip-on sunglasses and a tie adorned with an F-16 clip. He introduces himself to a new audience with: "You may not know me but I know you all — I've seen your photographs in my files". However, on this trip he was deep undercover, posing as a low-budget traveller who had won a return plane ticket to Australia in a promotion competition five years ago.
Cover notwithstanding, Shrub finds it hard not to express an opinion on the issues of the day.
"The Cold War is over, and we won, but this presented us with a couple of problems getting back into a Hot War in the Gulf, so we had to go through a Luke War, and that took quite a while. I apologise to anyone who might have been inconvenienced by that."
Saddam Hussein, says Shrub, didn't understand the New World Order, "where we give the orders". That is why "he crossed that line in the sand which was drawn for him, years ago and free of charge by a er (I don't know what he was high on at the time)".
Shrub boasts of a deep involvement in the "Gulf Opportunity/War" including attendance at meetings of the Coalition Against Saddam Hussein (CASH). But he admits still cannot understand one thing: "how our oil got under Kuwait".
"Our real problem, today, is that we are using up enemies faster than we can make them. Our enemy this week — let me check my diary — is Qadhafi. We have taken the advice of the environmentalists and we are recycling our enemies. Our good friend Assad used to be our good enemy, and he was good at that and will be again when we need him for that."
Qadhafi is a problem because he confuses people, says Shrub. "Once, he came out against terrorism, so then we had to come out for it just to stay on his bad side."
Shrub claims to have satellite photographs proving ("they are drawings, actually") that Cuba was about to steal the Panama Canal, before the US invaded. The "Cubists", he explained, were determined to convert the canal to metric and "we will not have a metric beachhead on this continent".
"You people have metric over here and you can see how people suffer under this system. The people in Cuba suffer under this system too and in addition they have abolished all classes there, so the working class in Cuba is suffering because they cannot rise above themselves."
Star Wars was now needed more than ever, said Shrub, to "protect America from small, non-white nations aiming their one bomb at us".
Was Bush grandstanding on international issues because he didn't know what to do about domestic problems in the US? "We have got a few serious problems back home, and the president, like any good politician, wants to solve them for the people by directing their attention elsewhere. For example, his son Neil, who was involved in a savings and loan mishap which cost only about a billion dollars, has an ethical disability. In fact he had an ethical bypass. But you shouldn't make fun of the ethically handicapped."
George Shrub claims to be right up on women's issues (or rather "ladies rights" or the "women's thing, as it is technically referred to in the CIA"): "As Dan Quayle once explained it to me, Roe vs Wade is two different ways to cross the river. This proves we have freedom of choice in our country, which explains the deep emotions invested in this case.
"But it all came out in the open again with the hearings for Judge Thomas, who is now on the Supreme Court. Judge Thomas was opposed to affirmative action because it puts people into jobs that they are not qualified for. But I think he showed great flexibility when he accepted his nomination."
On the environment, Shrub says not to worry about global warming because it will be cancelled out by the nuclear winter, and that while global environmental problems could be bad for everyone in the long term ("and even threaten the free enterprise system as we know it") ll spell a boom in wine cooler sales.
Shrub warned that environmentalists were not always who they seem to be. "There are all sorts of greens out there just as there are all sorts of Communists. There are the Red Greens and even the vegetarian Communists — the Marxist-Lentilists. And then, especially in Eastern Europe, there are our Communists and their Communists: it can get confusing."
At this point, George Stump the moderate environmentalist, also visiting Australia, butted into the conservation.
"The question of radical environmentalists is of great concern to me as well. Now I am for saving the planet, but the problem with these radicals, like those in Dirt First, is that they are for saving the whole planet! You just can't talk sense to these people.
"It's a question of need vs greed, they say. But isn't there a need for profit? And in the long run, you see, the greed trickles down, making all people greedy. That's the amazing thing about the free enterprise system. But anyhow you can't solve environment problems in the short run, you can only solve them in the long run. The short run is for making the problems and the long run is for solving them."
Dave Lippman produces cassette tapes of his comic routines and songs, and the money from this just keeps him alive. There are always benefits to be done and he is well known in the solidarity, peace and justice networks in the US. He can be contacted at PO Box 10764 Oakland, California 94610. Telephone: (510) 893 5845.